Player of the Year: Klay Thompson, Washington State
started the 2009-2010 on a torrid streak, averaging 25.6 ppg over his
first 13 games. A volume shooter in just about every definition of the
word, Thompson’s game is based around his excellent shooting range (ask San Diego).
The rest of his game has developed — he’s a better shooter off the
dribble, he showed improvement getting to the rim and getting to the
line — but as good as Thompson was during the first few months of the
season, he struggled quite a bit in Pac-10 play. As the focal point of
every defensive scheme, Thompson struggled to get to the foul line at
the same rate and started forcing tougher and tougher shots. As he gets
stronger and continues to develop his offensive repertoire, there is
reason to believe that Thompson will be able to handle the defensive
focus this season. And as Reggie Moore and DeAngelo Casto continue to
improve around him, don’t be surprised if he gets easier opportunities.
And a close second goes to: Isaiah Thomas, Washington
is a dynamo. At just 5’9″, the lefty is a terror to keep out of the
paint. More of a natural scorer than a natural point, Thomas is strong
enough to bully his way to the rim against bigger opponents and
athletic enough to finish when he gets there. He’s a streaky shooter,
but when he is on he’s as dangerous a scorer as you will find on the
West Coast. Thomas, and the Huskies, were considered major
disappointments last February, as Washington was struggling to remain
above .500 in a very weak Pac-10. But Thomas played great basketball
down the stretch, improving his shot selection, limiting his turnovers,
and becoming more of a leader than just a scorer. Washington fans hope
that carries over into this season.
Breakout Star: Malcolm Lee, UCLA
are a few guys I liked in this spot — Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Nikola
Vucevic, and Reggie Moore, to be specific — but I think Lee is hands
down the most talented of that group. It also means that his first two
seasons have been quite a disappointment. Lee is talented, there is no
question about that. He’s 6’5″, he is athletic with an awesome first
step, and he is quick-learner — he spent much of last season playing
the role of point guard as Jerime Anderson continued to struggle. There
are some things Lee certainly needs to work on — his jumper has been
lacking, as well as his shot selection (when you shoot 25% from three,
you shouldn’t be taking a third of your shots from beyond the arc), and
he could use some strength on his frame — but this kid was predicted
as a first rounder before last season. If the Bruins can find some
stability at the point and Lee can slide into his more natural spot off
the ball, he could make a big leap this season.
All-Conference First Team:
- POY – Klay Thompson, Washington State, Jr.
- G – Isaiah Thomas, Washington, Jr.
- G – Malcolm Lee, UCLA, Jr.
- G – Reggie Moore, Washington State, So.
- F – Nikola Vucevic, USC, Jr.
- F – Derrick Williams, Arizona, So.
All-Conference Second Team:
- G – Jeremy Green, Stanford, Jr.
- G – Ty Abbott, Arizona State, Sr.
- G – Allen Crabbe, Cal, Fr.
- F – Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Washington, Sr.
- F – DeAngelo Casto, Washington State, Sr.
Freshman of the Year: Allen Crabbe, Cal
past two seasons, Cal has been one of the most fun programs in the
country to watch simply because of the outstanding talent they had in
their back court — Patrick Christopher, Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson.
But with those three graduating, the Golden Bears are going to have to
rely on freshmen to pick up the slack. The best of the bunch in Crabbe,
a 6’6″ shooter that was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in
California last season. Known primarily as a jump-shooter, the rest of
his game really started to develop during his senior season. And with
the underrated Gary Franklin running the show, Crabbe should be plenty
of good looks this year.
- G – Gary Franklin, Cal
- G – Kaela King, Arizona State
- G – Terrence Ross, Washington
- G – Roberto Nelson, Oregon State
- F – Josh Smith, UCLA
This will be the final season of the Pac-10. While the conference
didn’t quite get the 16 teams they wanted by swallowing up the majority
of the Big XII, the league did manage to add Utah and Colorado to their
- Oregonian Drama: The Ducks pretty thoroughly embarrassed themselves
as they chased the like of Brad Stevens and Tom Izzo and Mike Anderson
and, well, pretty much any coach that you can name. Eventually, they
landed Dana Altman from Creighton, which, all in all, is a pretty good
That wasn’t it. Terrence Jones originally committed to the Washington Huskies in a press-conference with high school teammate Terrence Ross. But he eventually went back on that commitment and is now at Kentucky. He wasn’t the only player to waffle on Washington. Enes Kanter did as well,
and he ended up at Kentucky too. Oh, and 2011 recruit Tony Wroten seems
to be down Kentucky and Washington, amongst others. Anyone else think
the potential matchup between Kentucky and Washington in Maui will be fun?
- You gotta feel for this kid: Stanford’s Andy Brown.
He missed his senior year in high school, he redshirted last season,
and he is going to miss this season. All because he tore his left acl three times.
- Arizona State has an eventful offseason: Rihard Kuksiks nearly left school. Kyle Cain originally signed with Rhode Island, but after he was let out of his LOI by URI, he ended up in Tempe. Carrick Felix, a JuCo transfer, originally committed to Duke, but then went back on that and he, too, is at Arizona State. Then there is Demetrius Walker (remember him?) who is now headed to New Mexico.
- More UCLA turnover:
Transfers galore into and out of Westwood. J’Mison Morgan is headed to
Baylor, Mike Moser is off to UNLV, and Drew Gordon bounced to New
Mexico. But Ben Howland also brings in some transfers. David and Travis
Wear, the twins from UNC, will both be eligible next season, and
Lazeric Jones in a JuCo player brought in to help shore up the Bruin’s
back court problems. And Ben Howland brought in Matt Carlino a year
before he graduated high school.
Utah will be joining the league next season, and Colorado will be
coming on in 2012. The question is now how will the conference be
divided up. It seems reasonable to assume that the league is going to
go to two divisions — they want that football title game and all. But
every school wants to be in the same division as USC and UCLA. Its
quite the recruiting advantage to be able to play in Southern
California every season.
- Unpredictability: There is so much youth (there are 17 seniors in the conference. 17!!!!),
so much turnover, and so much mediocrity in the Pac-10 this season that
predicting this league after Washington at the top is nothing more than
a crap shoot. While there may not be a ton of NCAA Tournament teams and
lottery picks coming out of this Pac-10, what we can count on is
entertaining basketball games and a wild conference championship race.
The Pac-10 is going to be fun to follow this year.
- Roberto Nelson: Nelson was Craig Robinson’s star recruit in the class of 2009, but he was never able to get academically eligible.
Well, Nelson will be allowed to play this season. Can he help turn
around the Beaver program? Nelson was also featured prominently in
George Dohrmann’s book Play Their Hearts Out.
- Who is that team in green?: I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t recognize the Oregon basketball team next season. New head coach. Four transfers. And a new court. Need I mention the Michael Dunigan mess?
The Huskies lose Quincy Pondexter, who was the only first rounder to
come from the Pac-10 last season. But even with that loss, U-Dub is
essentially the only program in the conference that could be considered
to be doing well. After a Sweet 16 trip last season, Lorenzo Romar
returns everyone of consequence save Pondexter. The diminutive Isaiah
Thomas will be back for his junior campaign to lead the Huskies back
court. Thomas is a big-time scorer and playmaker and will be
complimented very well by Venoy Overton, who is probably the best
defender in the conference. Also expect big things from Abdul Gaddy,
the second-rated point guard in the class of 2009 (behind John Wall)
that struggled at times as a 17 year old freshman. Also joining them in
the back court will be freshman Terrence Ross, a 6’5″ shooting guard
that should be able to contribute immediately, and 6’6″ wing Justin
Holiday (Jrue’s older brother), a lanky and athletic small forward. Up
front, this team certainly has the talent, the question is whether that
group ever reaches that level. Matthew Bryan-Amaning is a 6’9″ power
forward with length and athleticism that will be counted on to replace
some of Pondexter’s scoring and boards. Behind him, Darnell Gant and
Desmond Simmons will be asked to play more predominant roles, while
JuCo transfer Aziz N’Diaye will a shot-blocking presence, and very well
could end up in the starting lineup. The front court depth took a hit
when Tyreese Breshers retired due to injuries. Washington right now is
the hands-down favorite to win the Pac-10. If they don’t, they have
only themselves to blame.
- Arizona: In
a wide open Pac-10, the Wildcats certainly have the talent necessary to
make a run at the league title even with the loss of Nic Wise. The
problem is that the majority of that talent is going to be freshmen and
sophomores. Derrick Williams should be one of the best sophomores in
the country, and will be even more productive as his post game
develops. Senior Jamelle Horne isn’t the brightest,
but he does have some talent and his ability to spread the floor will
help create space for Williams inside. Solomon Hill, Kryrl Natyazhko,
and Kevin Parrom are all sophomores, and their development this season
will go a long way towards determining how good Arizona will be this
season. Perhaps the most pressure, however, is going to fall on Lamont
“MoMo” Jones. Arizona is known as Point Guard U for good reason, and
MoMo is the one that will be taking the reins this season. MoMo showed
some promise as a scorer last season, but he will be counted on to be a
leader and a distributor this year. Joining him in the back court will
be junior Kyle Fogg, who has proven to be a solid scorer and shooter,
along with junior Brandon Lavender and freshmen Daniel Bejarano and
Jordin Mayes. The Pac-10 is difficult to predict, Arizona even more so
with their youth. This team could put it all together and make a run to
the league title, or they could suffer from inexperience and finish
below .500 in the league. Neither would surprise me, but the former
seems much more likely than the latter.
Last season, UCLA finished below .500 overall and in Pac-10 play. And
while they lost Michael Roll, Nikola Dragovic, and James Keefe as well
as Mike Moser, J’Mison Morgan, and Drew Gordon to transfer, there is
reason to believe that UCLA can have more success this season. For
starters, there is Malcolm Lee. Lee has yet to live up to the hype he
had coming into the program, but if he can iron out some of the
inconsistencies he had last season, there’s hope that he can eventually
fulfill that potential as a junior. Jerime Anderson is back at the
point, although he has never lived up to his hype, either. Lazeric
Jones, a JuCo transfer, was brought in to compete with Anderson for
minutes and, potentially, a starting spot. Joining them in the back
court will be freshmen Tyler Lamb and Matt Carlino. The biggest issue
will be up front, as most of the Bruin big men have left the program or
will be sitting this season out. Sophomore Reeves Nelson looks primed
for a big bump this season. The tough, physical Nelson plays power
forward like a football player and once he adds some post moves to his
repertoire, he could be a dangerous player in the conference. Joining
him up front is Tyler Honeycutt, who is more of a perimeter player than
a front court player, and Josh Smith, a 6’10” behemoth. At one point,
he reportedly weighed over 300 pounds, but the latest on Smith is that
he is much better shape. Depth, inexperience, and a lack of size will
likely be issues, but there is talent on this roster. Who develops —
and how much they develop — will determine how good this team ends up
- Washington State:
The Cougars lost six players to transfer, but only one — Xavier Thames
— played any kind of significant minutes. The Cougars also lost
starter Nikola Koprivica to graduation, but beyond that they return
four of their top five scorers. Klay Thompson is the best returning
player in the conference, a scorer that has developed a solid offensive
arsenal based around his dangerous jumper. He can score points in a
hurry. Reggie Moore had a very productive freshman campaign at the
point, and DeAngelo Casto is one of the better big men in the Pac-10.
Those three combined form arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in the league.
The problem is there is not much depth on this team. They really only
went seven deep a season ago, and with two of those seven gone, Bone
did not bring in much of anything in the recruiting trail. Marcus
Capers and Brock Motum will both see time, likely as starters. If Bone
can develop a bench for this group, they have a shot at making an NCAA
The Golden Bears are essentially in complete rebuilding mode. Their top
four scorers — essentially their only four scorers — from last season
all graduated, and sixth man Omondi Amoke was booted from the program.
The leading returning scorer is Jorge Gutierrez, a scrappy, 6’4″
off-guard known more for his defense than anything. That said,
Gutierrez was a solid play maker and shooter the last two seasons
playing a supporting role, meaning he may be able to elevate his game.
He likely will need to, as the rest of the Cal back court looks to be
freshmen. Allen Crabbe is a shooter and the reigning Gatorade
California player of the year and Gary Franklin seems poised to take
over the point guard role, while fellow freshmen Emerson Murray and
Alex Rossi, along with sophomore Brandon Smith, will contribute
minutes. The front court will be more experienced. Markhuri
Sanders-Frisson returns, as does Harper Kamp, who get redshirted last
season with an injury. Sophomore Bak Bak will provide depth for the
Bears up front, and don’t be surprised is freshman Richard Soloman sees
minutes with 7’3″ Max Zhang leaving to play professionally in China.
Mike Montgomery knows what he is going to get out of his front court —
size, toughness, experience, leadership. The question mark is the back
court. How good Gutierrez, Crabbe, and Franklin are will likely
determine how good Cal ends up being.
- Arizona State:
The Sun Devils lost quite a bit this season. Derek Glasser, Eric
Boateng, and Jerren Shipp all graduated. Victor Rudd, Demetrius Walker,
and Tyler Rohde all transferred. That said, Herb Sendek still has some
talent on his roster. He caught a break whenRihard Kuksiks decided not
to turn pro in his native Latvia. Ty Abbott is a senior and has
developed into a more-than-capable scorer on the wing. Jamelle
McMillan, the son of Nate McMillan, should be fine stepping into the
point guard void left by Glasser. Trent Lockett showed flashes of being
a big time player as a freshman. That’s a solid returning back court,
and we haven’t even gotten to the talent that Herb Sendek brings in
this year. Keala King is the most highly rated recruit, a 6’5″ guard
with a nice, all-around offensive arsenal that should see minutes
immediately even if Kuksiks is back. Brandon Dunson and Corey Hawkins
should also compete for minutes in the back court. The bigger issue
will be up front. Ruslan Pateev is a 6’11” sophomore that didn’t get
many minutes as a freshman. 7’2″ Jordan Bachynski also joins the fray.
The more interesting prospects, however, are Kyle Cain and Carrick
Felix. Both are relatively small, but Felix is a dynamic athlete that
originally committed to Duke and Cain, a bit bigger, will provide some
toughness and strength inside. If Sendek somehow develops his front
court, the Sun Devils have a shot at a tournament berth.
The Trojans likely wish that this season was the one they would face
the postseason ban, not last season. But as we all know, USC AD Mike
Garrett tried to save Trojan football by throwing Trojan hoops under
the bus, which is a shame because USC was poised to surprise quite a
few people. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some pieces on this roster.
Alex Stephenson and Nikola Vucevic both return, giving the Trojans one
of the better front lines in the Pac-10. And while the Trojans do lose
Mike Gerrity, they bring in Fordham transfer Jio Fontan, who will
become eligible in December. Beyond that, however, the question marks
begin. How will Donte Smith, Marcus Simmons, and Evan Smith handle
expanded roles this year? Will USC’s recruiting class — headlined by
four-star shooting guard Bryce Jones — be able to contribute
immediately? Because if the Trojans want to have a chance at being
relevant this season, they will need more than just Stephenson,
Vucevic, and Fontan.
- Oregon State:
Once again, Craig Robinson is going to have a rough go of it in
Corvallis. Gone is the talented Roeland Schaftenaar and both of the
Tarver brothers, meaning that the Beaver’s Princeton-style offense will
be based around the talents of senior guard Calvin Haynes. Joining
Haynes in the back court will, in all-likelihood, be redshirt freshman
Roberto Nelson, Robinson’s prized recruit in the class of 2009 that
couldn’t get eligible, senior Lathan Wallace, and sophomore Jared
Cunningham. Also don’t be surprised if Chicago native Ahmad Sparks, a
5’8″ freshman point guard, sees time as well. Up front, Joe Burton,
Omari Johnson, and Daniel Deane all return, but the real star in the
front court could very well end up being Devon Collier. A product of
Bob Hurley and the famed St. Anthony’s program, Collier was a pretty
heavily recruited prospect. Freshmen Eric Moreland and Chris Brown
should also compete for time. the Beavers will once again have a tough,
competitive team, but they lack the talent to be a real threat in this
The Cardinal finished second to last in the Pac-10 last season, and
they will head into this season without their star Landry Fields, who
is now a New York Knick. They do return Jeremy Green, the only other
player on the roster to average double figures. Green is a 6’4″ guard
known mostly for his ability as a spot-up shooter. Joining Green in the
back court will be Jarrett Mann, a 6’3″ junior that led the team in
assists as well as turnovers. Jack Trotter and Andrew Zimmermann both
return up front, but beyond that, Stanford’s rotation will essentially
be made up of freshmen — there are eight on the roster total, not
including the injury-riddled Andy Brown. Dwight Powell is a five-star,
6’10” center, and Anthony Brown is a top 100 two guard that should
contribute immediately. Johnny Dawkins is showing promise on the
recruiting trail, but he still has a while to go until this Stanford
team will be competitive.
Good luck recognizing the Ducks next season. Ernie Kent is gone,
replaced by Dana Altman. Mac Court will soon be gone. Leading scorer
TaJuan Porter is gone to graduation. Jamil Wilson, Matthew Humphrey, Drew Wiley and Josh Crittle
all decided to transfer, and Malcolm Armstead very nearly did as well.
Michael Dunigan left the program amidst a potential scandel to sign
with a professional team in Israel. Oregon is in trouble this year.
Armstead is their leading returning scorer and creator, but he is
really the only threat they have. Joevan Catron returns after receiving
a medical redshirt, while LeKendric Longmire, Jeremy Jacob, Teondre
Williams, EJ Singler, and Garrett Sim round out the returning rotation.
A run to the top half of the league would be an impressive feat for